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MLPs on Rise: Best ETFs & Stocks Over One Month

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While trade tensions have hurt investors’ sentiment, the overlooked corner of the market is making great strides. This is especially true as master limited partnerships (MLPs) have been outperforming over the past one month.

Below, we have highlighted some solid reasons of their strong performance:

New FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) Rule

The new ruling related to the treatment of income taxes for interstate natural gas pipeline operators has spread strong optimism into the space. This is especially true as the FERC softens MLP tax allowance stance, which will make MLPs viable funding vehicles for energy companies once again, since they could drop down natural gas pipelines to these entities without seeing significant drops in income.

Under the final ruling, FERC provides operators of interstate natural gas pipelines with options to address the revenue changes that resulted from the elimination of the tax allowance, which could lead to an adjustment of rates to a "just and reasonable level" for both pipeline companies and customers.

Strong Earnings

MLPs strong earnings growth continued in the second quarter after a solid first quarter. Some of the top players in the space like Enterprise Products EPD and Magellan Midstream Partners MMP outpaced the Zacks Consensus Estimate on both the top and bottom line, while some like Plains All American Pipeline PAA, Cheniere Energy Partners CQP and Spectra Energy Partners SEP beat on earnings estimate (read: Strong Q2 Earnings Expectations Power Energy ETFs).

Solid Volume Flowing

Most MLPs are engaged in the processing and transportation of energy commodities such as natural gas, crude oil, and refined products. As such, they are not directly linked to the price of oil and are likely to be the major beneficiaries of an oil boom in the long term. Acting as toll-takers, these MLPs earn revenues on the volumes that flow through pipes and not on the commodity price. This nature of business is providing boost to these stocks given the U.S. shale boom.

Attractive Yields

MLPs have relatively consistent and predictable cash flows, making them safer and less risky than other plays in the broader energy space. These represent an attractive investment option for income-focused investors as MLPs pay out substantially all of their income to investors on a regular basis. In addition to high yields and the potential for capital appreciation, MLPs also have lower volatility and provide diversification benefits to the portfolio (read: 5 ETFs Yielding 5% or More).

Nevertheless, like all high-income products, MLPs tends to react negatively to a rising rate environment. This is because as yields rise, MLPs might face problems in raising fresh capital from debt markets for funding new projects, thereby hurting their profitability. But this doesn’t seem too much of a concern at present as the Fed will follow a gradual rate hike path this year. Additionally, most MLPs use a fixed rate debt for their borrowings.

Further, investors hold MLPs for a long time due to tax consequences and thus do not react adversely to rising interest rates unlike other rate sensitive assets like utilities and REITs.

Given solid fundamentals, investors might want to tap the space with the top-performing MLP ETFs and stocks of this year. For them, we have highlighted five funds and stocks that are poised to perform well, should the trend prevail.

ETRACS Alerian MLP Infrastructure Index ETN Series B MLPB

This is an ETN option and tracks the performance of the Alerian MLP Infrastructure Index and pays a variable quarterly coupon linked to the cash distributions paid on the Master Limited Partnerships in the index, less investor fees (read: Best & Worst Zones of July & Their ETFs).

Zacks Rank: N/A
AUM: $10.1 million
Expense Ratio: 0.85%
One-Month Return: 13.9%

ETRACS Alerian Natural Gas MLP Index ETN MLPG

This ETN is designed to track an investment in the Alerian Natural Gas MLP Index, and pay a variable quarterly coupon linked to the cash distributions associated with the underlying MLP constituents, less investor fees.

AUM: $10.2 million
Expense Ratio: 0.85%
One-Month Return: 8.3%

ETRACS Alerian MLP Index ETN Series B AMUB

This ETN is inked to the performance of the Alerian MLP Index.

AUM: $7.3 million
Expense Ratio: 0.80%
One-Month Return: 8.2%

C-Tracks ETN Miller/Howard MLP Fundamental Index MLPC

This ETN is based on the performance of the Miller/Howard MLP Fundamental Index, which is designed to measure the performance of 25 master limited partnerships selected by a methodology based upon quantitative fundamental factors of publicly traded MLPs.

AUM: $109.5 million
Expense Ratio: 0.95%
One-Month Return: 8%

J.P. Morgan Cushing 30 MLP Index ETN PPLN

This product follows the Cushing 30 MLP Index, which measures the performance of 30 publicly traded MLP securities that hold midstream energy infrastructure assets in North America (see: all the MLP ETFs here).

AUM: $7.6 million
Expense Ratio: 0.95%
One-Month Return: 7.8%

Oasis Midstream Partners LP OMP

It owns, develops, operate and acquire a diversified portfolio of midstream assets primarily in North America.

Zacks Rank: #3 (Hold)
VGM Score: B
Market Cap: $639.8 million
One-Month Return: 19.2%

Global Partners LP (GLP - Free Report)

This midstream logistics and marketing company distributes gasoline, distillates, residual oil, and renewable fuels to wholesalers, retailers, and commercial customers in the New England states and New York.

Zacks Rank: #3
VGM Score: A
Market Cap: $669.9 million
One-Month Return: 17.5%

TC PipeLines LP TCP

It acquires, owns and participates in the management of energy infrastructure businesses in North America. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Zacks Rank: #1
VGM Score: D
Market Cap: $2.3 billion
One-Month Return: 16.8%

Delek Logistics Partners L.P. DKL

It owns, operates, acquires and constructs crude oil and refined products logistics and marketing assets.

Zacks Rank: #3
VGM Score: A
Market Cap: $799 million
One-Month Return: 14.4%

Energy Transfer Partners L.P. ETP

It owns and operates portfolio of complementary natural gas midstream, intrastate and interstate transportation and storage assets; crude oil, natural gas liquids and refined product transportation and terminalling assets; NGL fractionation and various acquisition and marketing assets.

Zacks Rank: #3
VGM Score: B
Market Cap: $25.7 billion
One-Month Return: 13.7%

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